Former Amazon Exec Charlie Kindel Joins Control4 as SVP of Products & Services
In 2013, Charlie Kindel joined Amazon as the "Director, something secret" according to his LinkedIn, noting that he is "now at Amazon working on something wonderful." Just five years later, that secret project would fully mature as Alexa and catapult the mainstream consumer into the nuanced world of home automation.
"I have a philosophy when you take any job you want to feel good about 70 percent of the time, and then you want 30 percent to scare the pants off of you," Kindel said. "The dive into a smaller company in a different customer segment, where the company has so many products; those are the aspects of this that scare the pants off of me."
"And I love that," he noted.
The move is intriguing, if not expected, as Kindel has seemingly had a beef with his piecemealed home automation for a few months now. He explains in a personal blog post back in April - filed as 'Friday was my last day at Amazon' - that his last day means 'catching his breath' and giving his home automation a complete revamp. He also explains that he is "hiring a CEDIA-level installer to completely refit my home automation system and I will project manage that."
A few weeks later, around the same time the Control4 Certified Showroom launched, the home automation company mentioned Kindel's underwhelmed emotions with the current state of his own smart home. Kindel got into a 9 part self-described "tweetstorm" about that touches on a lot of the barriers he is facing and how the industry could use a shake-up.
"I currently have over 200 'devices' controllable by Alexa in my home," Kindel tweeted. "138 of those are lighting loads. Some are scenes. Some are devices like the air compressor in my workshop. It took serious work by me to program it all as a hobby. I do not want to spend my time programming my home anymore."
9/ The ideal, being a world where anyone can afford a completely connected, smart home where professionals design, install, program, and monitor the infrastructure, devices, and system so customers can just enjoy the benefits.
— Charlie Kindel (@ckindel) May 9, 2018
And Kindel would know best. His time and experience at Amazon, shaping Alexa and the Kindle into the milestones we know today, was no small achievement. And he brings that same two-pronged approach of being widely accessible and on the bleeding-edge of innovation to Control4.
"I have a massive amount to learn," Kindel said. "Control4 has a lot of surface area, and I need to spend a lot of time getting a very deep understanding of every single one of those products. I need to polish and make sure that a dealer and end customers are even happier than they are today... This is a target rich environment for innovation on behalf of customers. There's no shortage of opportunities for doing really delightful things to enable customers to have better experiences and enable dealers to grow their businesses.
"The follow up to me learning and understanding this is to see how we can accelerate this even more," he added.
Lately, Control4 has had no shortage of accelerated growth or happiness for their partners either. In a market meeting today they announced a quarterly year-over-year growth of 13%, and have a compounded annual growth rate of 16 percent in the past five years as nearly 5,500 dealers help outfit over 370,000 homes around the globe. Their portfolio of equipment works with 12,000-and-counting third-party products and a handful of important acquisitions in Pakedge, ihiji, and Triad have ensured they cover every corner of the connected ecosystem.
But more importantly, those pieces of the puzzle need a driving force to bring everything together, and that's where Control4 will lean on Kindel and his experience to shape the company and trailblaze a bigger future for the industry.
"The voyage that we are all on as an industry is embracing technology to make our lives better. And that journey first encounters, technological innovation combined with complexity." Martin Plaehn CEO of Control4 said. "The next phase is further technological innovation, replacing that complexity with simplicity and elegance. And where we are in our companies evolution and where Charlie is in his professional voyage being 20-years associated with the connected home.
"We have an excellent understanding of the technology and the complexity and the need to drive it to simplicity and elegance," Plaehn added. "And I think that that's the next chapter for Control4 and the next chapter for our industry."
And Kindel agrees. Between his two decades at Microsoft and his (relatively speaking) short stint at Amazon, he has been a massive influencer for the Connected Home. His entrance into the custom install arena only proves how important a role it will play in both market growth and in consumers lives going forward.
"My fundamental belief around this industry, around the connected home, is that the need for consumers to have professional human help in the technology choices they make is something that's going to exist forever and the demand for it is going to increase rapidly," Kindel said. "No amount of invention or new products is going to remove the need for configuration, install, programming, management, and monitoring. We will invest and do everything we can to make these products easier to use, easier to install, easier to configure, but the simple fact is these products are multiplying like rabbits. Just the common metrics of the scenarios and the devices that exist will add even more complexity to normal humans lives, and I want to make it my mission to enable professionals that are professionals to be able to be there for those consumers to help them."
"And Control4 is the core of the business right now in the pro-install channel, and I'm really excited about the ability to reinforce and build that channel and make it even more successful."